updated 07:00 am EST, Fri February 10, 2012
Motorola suffers setback in German court
Motorola has failed in its bid to force another 3G/UMTS-based patent injunction against Apple in the Mannheim Regional Court, according to Foss Patents. German Judge Andreas Voss dismissed the evidence presented in court by Motorola's lawyers on the grounds that it had failed to demonstrate conclusive evidence that Apple had infringed upon the patent in question. Instead, Motorola had tried to argue in general terms that as the patent has been declared essential to the 3G/UMTS standard, that Apple by default had to have violated the patent by using the standard in some of its products.
While the loss will weaken its position against Apple in Germany, Motorola has previously enjoyed significant two wins in its German patent suits against Apple. The first win resulted in the immediate banning of a number of Apple's products from its online store in Germany - Apple subsequently won a suspension of the injunction. The second related to the way that Apple's iCloud and MobileMe services have implemented push-email technology covered in another of Motorola's patent claims. Apple is also appealing that decision - if it loses, it could be forced to remove the functionality from both the backend services and devices which access them.
Motorola is asking Apple for 2.25 percent of all its net iPhone and iPad sales in order to cease further litigation. Unsurprisingly, this an amount that Apple does not believe is reasonable for the technologies in question, particularly for those patents deemed to be essential to standards. Further, the amount in question is being applied the total value of the products Apple sells, over and above the implementation of the technology concerned.
Despite Apple's win today, it is still in a position where it will have to either pay Motorola certain licensing fees, or remove certain functionality from its devices and services, or potentially be forced to withdraw them from sale in Germany again. While it could be argued that the way Motorola's lawyers have calculated the figure is to take into account potential damages in addition to fees, Apple has countered that it had previously offered to pay Motorola appropriate fees under FRAND guidelines.
Motorola may need to tread carefully in its pursuit of Apple over 3G patents deemed to be considered essential to standards. Samsung, which has also ignited patent suits against Apple for 3G technologies deemed essential to the 3G standard, is currently facing an EU investigation as to whether it is abusing its patents and obligation to charge fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory rates. If the EU investigation returns an unfavourable outcome, it could have significant implications for both Android makers in their attempts to counter Apple in courts around the world.